The Bane of Light: Chadul & His Minions By Katrionah Rosalette in Dark Ages
Mors sola fatetur quantula sint hominum corpuscula Death alone reveals how small men's poor bodies are. -Juvenal
I. Death's Allure
What comes after death? No one alive can tell you that. For that matter, no soothsayer, oracle, or wise prophet has ever bothered to enlighten any with tales behind the reason of life and death. As mortals we may never know anything much beyond these principles other than the simple fact we are born, we grow, we procreate, and eventually, lives having been fulfilled or not, we die. As it has always been, perhaps as it always will be, only in death can one know its' true working. Its passages, its purpose, its timing and reasoning. It is only in that final breath, that final moment of life, that a mortal can fully fathom their mortality. Thus, know what they are entering into. Whether a transition into simply nothingness, or the beginning of a fantastic journey which travels even beyond the bounds of imagination's possibilities, death itself is one of the single most fascinating, and frightening, phenomenon of the ages. Perhaps mankind would have remained in blissful ignorance of this subject, had not the souls so many centuries ago cried out in horrific unison of pain and anguish in their afterlives. It was then, within those outcries of so many years ago, from a realm until then beyond the living's comprehension that the presence of a horrific being was first made truly known in its threat. The time, in Danaan 1813, the mortal living of Temuair knew that Chadul's awful power.
II. Infernal Creation
It is not known whether the demonic race known as the Dubhaimid was responsible for the creation of Chadul; or if Chadul came first, spawning the Dubhaimid from the foolish wars and destruction the mortals had created since the drowning of Hy-Brasyl. Like the debate of life and death, all that could be said for certain was that the two existed, and were very real in their threats. The Dubhaimid wreaked havoc upon the land, destroying many cities, which were already greatly weakened from the strain of the wars across the centuries. The dark being's malformed hands, claws, and teeth killed hundreds of thousands. Some were known to die quickly by these demons, others were left to perish in torment as the Dubhaim danced wicked, obscene dances around their victims as slowly, bit by bit, they showed their mortal toys a terrible end full of fear and pain. It was through these gross displays that Chadul's realm, the underworld, the land of the dead, was filled with many a tortured soul. The Dark God reveled in the shrieks of pain that filled the dank, disgusting chambers of his world. The many souls gathered together into hug formations, drifting about their dark prison in rivers of screaming, writhing, tortured spirits. Still, their numbers grew, and the Dubhaimid continued their destruction. The Grinneal was left to crumbled into nothingness at the Dubhaimid's crude antics across the land, few mortals managed to escape their crude tortures of death, and those who did lived in constant fear as refugees miserable in their distant hiding places. It was in this time of terror and destruction that mortals began to se the error of their ways. The best warlords had fallen crying and screaming just the same as any peasant had, and no matter how strong the warrior, the soldiers of Chadul's dark army proved always stronger. The survivors huddled together in hopeless councils, often times debating the point of their survival when death was sure to find them one way or another. If not the Dubhaim, there was starvation, sickness, and exposure. One way or another, the mortals found their way into the nether regions of the world.
III. Sweet Deliverance
It was in the hour when the hopelessness had reached it highest point, that the people gathered together, and the elders told of the all but forgotten years of light. Helpless and desperate in this battle against the increasing darkness, the people returned to the worship of Danaan, the great goddess of light. In time, their prayers were answered, and the year of Danaan 1980, the great war between Danaan's forces and Chadul's had begun. This battle, however, though it gave mortals a new chance to live, would still not help the control Chadul had over the souls of the world's populous. During the 5 year span of the great war between light and dark, Temuair was ravaged, and many mortals were killed in the 'crossfire'. In the end, though Chadul's power was greatly weakened, he had not been stopped entirely. The still surviving mortals, perhaps somehow strengthened by their faith and devotion for Danaan, found the power to begin anew and rebuild the fallen cities of Temuair. As new techniques and tools in the ways of fighting were gradually discovered, the people no longer lived with the paralyzing fear for the Dubhaimid. Cities and villages arose from the rubble, and once again life began anew, the firm grip darkness had upon the world having had its first weakening blow. The anguished of the souls of Chadul's realm no longer rose up to torment the living, for in the war against Danaan's forces, Chadul had been greatly weakened, leaving him unable to draw power from the torment of his formless prisoners. It truly seemed that by Danaan's light, yet both sides were greatly weakened in this incredible battle. The souls were contented by the knowledge of that fact. Both light and dark retreated, exhausted from this long struggle, and leaving behind Temuair in its own self-ravaged state of being. Chadul, however, was not entirely beaten; and a new pawn in his twisted game against the light was formed. Sgrios.
IV. Decaying Tales of Decaying Gods
Not a single tale or myth in history has bee able to aptly describe Sgrios and his origins. Not even Aislings today, who often find themselves in his realm from time to time due to a ill fated battle, can never hope to fully understand what The Devourer of Souls truly wants or serves. Sgrios is a being nearly to gruesome to look upon, being the god of decay itself, his body is that of a long rotted corpse, barely mobile due to the rotting marrow of his bones and long lost flesh. It is said that in an effort to keep from disintegrating completely, Sgrios must feed of the life's spark of souls to ward off this natural process. For that, his hunger can never be satisfied, and perhaps in centuries to come he will finally crumble away to nothing more than dust. For a simpler explanation, it has been said that Sgrios is a higher form of the Dubhaimid, a direct child of Chadul to carry on his dark ways. As for the dark pawn's true origins, only scant tales of those first few souls who escape Chadul's realm are left to remotely explain were he comes from. Some have been a combination of many tales, others seeming to be fantastic and impossible. One philosopher told it as Sgrios was originally, as a living mortal like any other, a fanatic mortal who, enticed by the power Chadul's servants the Dubhaimid held, prayed to the Dark being that he might be shown similar strength and servitude to his beloved God. Why he came to worship Chadul instead of Danaan is a mystery, some saying he believed that the forces of light fought a pointless battle, and that darkness had a right to rule. Still, others say he was a scholar who dated back to the ages of Hy-Brasyl, one who after seeking out the fabled Home of the Gods, found it, and simply went mad from what it taught him. Having being endowed with the divine knowledge not meant for the eyes and ears of any mortal, he fell into a state of complete madness and blind devotion unto 'Divine Progress'. Perhaps also, his pilgrimage left him filled with some godly light, but not quite enough to keep him young and immortal. Sgrios did, however, never die, but his body continued to age anyway. Out of all the frenzied Priests whom had prayed and journey to the Land of Kadath, it was Sgrios whom may have been the only to return. And so, living on in a state of eternal rot without the release of death, Sgrios' mental health deteriorated further. With the birth of Chadul, lord of the dead, he saw his chance for deliverance from his sad state of decay. Praying frantically for some means of release, Sgrios found himself at last answered by the dark one. The deal was simple, as Chadul put it. For being so unendingly faithful to the ways of the dark, and in turn proving loyal to Chadul himself, he granted Sgrios the full powers of a god and the ability to control that of the Dubhaimid. It was by feeding off the souls of the realm that he managed to slow his eternal state of decay, and in turn it also strengthened him to be a horrible Demi-God under Chadul's wing. Aptly named, for his physical state and what he thrived upon, The God of Decay.
V. What You Don't Learn From the Past...
It was when Chadul was weakened by the battle against Danaan that Sgrios got his true chance to demonstrate his new godly powers. He not only was allowed to take reign over the souls of the underworld, but the Dubhaimid as well to command as his army. There was one flaw in this though, for as Chadul was greatly weakened, so were his counterparts, the Dubhaimid. As Sgrios sent out the demons to reap the souls into the underworld as before, they were instead now dispatched easily by the mortals due to their weakened state. The living no longer so the Dubhaim as a threat, and any of the demons that sought to take a town were laughingly dispatched by the new methods developed by the mortals. Sgrios was then left wrought with hunger, for he could no longer drain enough sustenance of the souls of Chadul's realm; and those few the Dubhaim managed to shepherd were far from enough to quench his bottomless thirst for them. Desperately, he sought the council of his master Chadul, still said to be resting in the deepest regions of the dark realm. Chadul, still recovering in a near in-animate state, his counterparts the Dubhaimid mirror his near helpless state, at last devised one cunning and devious plan to undo Danaan's work upon he and his forces. Make them come to him. This time, not by the destruction of the Dubhaim, but of their own greed and foolishness. If there was no longer any way Chadul or the Dubhaimid could harvest the mortal souls, then they must instead influence them enough to have them turn against one another. New, amazing advances in weaponry were suddenly conceived amongst the people. Such a leap that would have taken centuries given the state of rebuilding Temuair was stuck in for so many years. These new developments were Chadul's doing, and they would put his wicked plans into place far sooner than anyone could realize. With these new weapons, denizens of Temuair began to fathom that during this state of shaky growth, with enough power, they could seize control in some way. This idea, even more ironically apart of Chadul's twisted hopes, was shared by more than a few. Soon, Temuair was divide, and the hostility between the newly divided lands was far from a quiet one. Wars rose up to battle for the most fertile territories, while others of coastal areas begin devising plans of hugs ships that could be used in travel to the secluded lands, and even battle within the seas themselves. The struggle for battle became intense, and Chadul, deep within his kingdom of the dead, was overjoyed with grim stratification of the many soldiers, and innocents caught in the battles that flooded upon his regions. He knew, that like himself, Danaan was weakened from their battle so many years ago, and even the goddess of light had to take the time to gather herself. For Chadul, it was all to perfect, and the scattered beings of light mourned for this violent turn of events. The mortals, pushed further by the realization of new methods to war, became blinded from reason in their mad lusts for power, wealth, and land. The wisdom they should have learned from all previous wars was either lost or forfeited, and no elders remained who knew of those horrific times. The land was covered in strife and greed, and the people no longer knew ways to stop it. Danaan woefully could not answer the prayers to her to end the madness, she had done all she could for the next thousands of years. In time, the league of Darkness would be formed, and in a pact that would also allow the dead to escape Chadul's realm, was granted a thousand-year life span. In Danaan 2601, Temuair was finally truly divided. The territories were set, but the struggles still continued, there seemed no end to the chaos that ruled; and though both Chadul and Danaan could do little to affect what happened during these years, the wars raged on for centuries to come...
In the two thousandth and twenty-sixth year of Danaan, the Dark Ages began...
Farewell happy fields, where joy forever dwells, Hail horrors, hail infernal world, and thou profoundest Hell. Receive thy new possessor, one who brings a mind not to be changed by place or time. The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven. - Paradise Lost